Facts about Thailand

World Facts Index > Thailand > Bangkok, Chiang Mai

A unified Thai kingdom was established in the mid-14th century. Known as Siam until 1939, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been taken over by a European power. A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to a constitutional monarchy. In alliance with Japan during World War II, Thailand became a US ally following the conflict. Thailand is currently facing separatist violence in its southern ethnic Malay-Muslim provinces.

Geography of Thailand

Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, southeast of Burma
15 00 N, 100 00 E
total: 514,000 sq km
water: 2,230 sq km
land: 511,770 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly more than twice the size of Wyoming
Land boundaries:
total: 4,863 km
border countries: Burma 1,800 km, Cambodia 803 km, Laos 1,754 km, Malaysia 506 km
3,219 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
tropical; rainy, warm, cloudy southwest monsoon (mid-May to September); dry, cool northeast monsoon (November to mid-March); southern isthmus always hot and humid
central plain; Khorat Plateau in the east; mountains elsewhere
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Gulf of Thailand 0 m
highest point: Doi Inthanon 2,576 m
Natural resources:
tin, rubber, natural gas, tungsten, tantalum, timber, lead, fish, gypsum, lignite, fluorite, arable land
Natural hazards:
land subsidence in Bangkok area resulting from the depletion of the water table; droughts
Environment current issues:
air pollution from vehicle emissions; water pollution from organic and factory wastes; deforestation; soil erosion; wildlife populations threatened by illegal hunting
Geography - note:
controls only land route from Asia to Malaysia and Singapore

More Geography

Population of Thailand

65,493,296 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 22% (male 7,284,068/female 6,958,632)
15-64 years: 70% (male 22,331,312/female 22,880,588)
65 years and over: 8% (male 2,355,190/female 2,821,805)
Median age:
31.9 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
19.49 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.25 years
male: 69.95 years
female: 74.68 years
Fertility rate:
1.64 children born/woman
noun: Thai (singular and plural)
adjective: Thai
Ethnic groups:
Thai 75%, Chinese 14%, other 11%
Buddhist 94.6%, Muslim 4.6%, Christian 0.7%, other 0.1%
Thai, English (secondary language of the elite), ethnic and regional dialects
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96%
male: 97.5%
female: 94.6%


Country name:
conventional long form: Kingdom of Thailand
former: Siam
Government type:
constitutional monarchy
Administrative divisions:
76 provinces (changwat, singular and plural)
1238 (traditional founding date; never colonized)
National holiday:
Birthday of King PHUMIPHON, 5 December (1927)
new constitution signed by King PHUMIPHON on 11 October 1997
Legal system:
based on civil law system, with influences of common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch:
chief of state: King PHUMIPHON Adunyadet or (BHUMIBOL Adulyadej) (since 9 June 1946)
head of government: Prime Minister SOMCHAI Wongsawat (since 17 September 2008); Deputy Prime Minister OLARN Cahipravat (since 24 September 2008); Deputy Prime Minister CHAWARAT Chanweerakun or (CHAOVARAT Chanweerakul) (since 24 September 2008); Deputy Prime Minister SANAN Kachornprasat or (SANAN Kachornparsart) (since 7 February 2008); Deputy Prime Minister SOMPONG Amornwiwat (since 24 September 2008)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
note: there is also a Privy Council
elections: monarch is hereditary; according to 2007 constitution, prime minister is designated from among members of House of Representatives; following national elections for House of Representatives, leader of party that could organize a majority coalition usually was appointed prime minister by king; prime minister is limited to two 4-year terms.
Legislative branch:
bicameral National Assembly or Rathasapha consists of the Senate or Wuthisapha (200 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Sapha Phuthaen Ratsadon (500 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Sandika (judges appointed by the monarch)


With a well-developed infrastructure, a free-enterprise economy, and generally pro-investment policies, Thailand appears to have fully recovered from the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis. The country was one of East Asia's best performers from 2002-04. Boosted by strong export growth, the Thai economy grew 4.5% in 2007. Bangkok has pursued preferential trade agreements with a variety of partners in an effort to boost exports and to maintain high growth. By 2007, the tourism sector had largely recovered from the major 2004 tsunami. Following the military coup in September 2006, investment and consumer confidence stagnated due to the uncertain political climate that lasted through the December 2007 elections. Foreign investor sentiment was further tempered by a 30% reserve requirement on capital inflows instituted in December 2006, and discussion of amending Thailand's rules governing foreign-owned businesses. Economic growth in 2007 was due almost entirely to robust export performance - despite the pressure of an appreciating currency. Exports have performed at record levels, rising nearly 17% in 2006 and 12% in 2007. Export-oriented manufacturing - in particular automobile production - and farm output are driving these gains.

$521.5 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 9.9%
industry: 44.1%
services: 46%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
35.36 million
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 49%, industry 14%, services 37%
revenues: $30.64 billion
expenditures: $31.76 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 91.3%
hydro: 6.4%
other: 2.4%
tourism, textiles and garments, agricultural processing, beverages, tobacco, cement, light manufacturing such as jewelry, electric appliances and components, computers and parts, integrated circuits, furniture, plastics, world's second-largest tungsten producer, and third-largest tin producer
rice, cassava (tapioca), rubber, corn, sugarcane, coconuts, soybeans
textiles and footwear, fishery products, rice, rubber, jewelry, automobiles, computers and electrical appliances
Export partners:
US 15.5%, Japan 13.7%, China 8.3%, Singapore 6.8%, Hong Kong 5.6%, Malaysia 5.2% 
capital goods, intermediate goods and raw materials, consumer goods, fuels
Import partners:
Japan 22%, China 9.4%, US 7.4%, Malaysia 6.8%, UAE 4.8%, Singapore 4.5% 
baht (THB)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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